The liberty and the novelty of doing anthropology

For me, science - that science not separated yet from art - is essentially an activity of making game rules, not limited to reacting to the ball you receive according to the existing rules. In anthropology, Bronislaw Malinowski, Claude Lévi-Strauss and Masao Yamaguchi were among those who invented their own anthropologies in this way.

We never know where anthropology begins and where it ends. The boundaries of this mass of experiences called ethnographic fieldwork are always blurred, uncertain. This is the difficulty peculiar to this science, but also is the chance for its liberty and its novelty.

Anthropology has had its source of energy in that adventure of going outside of the pre-existing frames of thought in which we usually find ourselves. Today is surely a hard time for whom aspires to produce those not-immediately-usable things. But I would like to support this kind of effort at my best.

As for myself, by chance and by necessity, sometimes I have gone outside of anthropology, to philosophy and to cinema, and the back again to anthropology, looking for that novelty on my own limited ways. This website is intended to reflect these humble activities of mine.

Toward "naturalism"

Naturalism is the word I selected for this website, because anthropological thinking is, in its essence, a reflection upon Nature. But by this I do not mean that "go back to the nature" kind of naturalism: precisely, my starting point is to exclude any sort of a priori notion of nature like the one supposed in it.

Today all human societies on earth are filled with "artificial" things. Most of our daily thoughts and acts are directed toward "artificial" objects (just as I am now writing in this website). The meaning of our life does not lie outside of them. But Nature, taken in its unrestricted sense, should embrace all of them. On the one hand it is part of our body; on the other, our body is part of it. Nature gives force to us, as well as to anything else including the most presumably artificial things: we continually mix ourselves with them.

This is philosophical, but is anthropological, too. In effect, probably no other human or social science comes nearer to Nature in this sense than anthropology.  "Ethnographic reality" is the name of that portion of Nature scrutinized by all possible means during ethnographic fieldwork. I would suggest that audiovisual images, if used adequately, may help us a lot in this effort.

In any case, here I would like to present this "naturalistic" anthropology not so much as a theory or a methodology, but as an attitude toward life. All that I have written, at least for myself, are expressions of this attitude. My hope is that some of the words contained in this website become invisible seeds of thought, encouraging the visitor, in any tiny way, to go further with his/her own experiments, and to create his/her own "anthropology".

Some images

Yanai - Barcelona, tres bocetos (6 min., 2009) from Tadashi Yanai on Vimeo

※To watch this video on full screen, please click vimeo on the lower right side and, once in the new Vimeo page, click 拡大 on the lower right side. To finish the full screen mode, you can use the "Escape" key.